Last weekend I was able to organize a meeting with a man named Paddy, who, after retiring, began cultivating his own produce in his back garden. With him were his wife, and his grandson, James:
They showed me around their garden, and gave me some key insight to the merits and pitfalls of GIY:Paddy had no time for gardening while he was working, but soon after he retired, he started. He began growing his own fruit and vegetables because he became concerned about the overuse of chemicals in store bought produce. He also wanted to find a constructive use of his time. He set aside a corner of his garden and got to work. After just under a week of hard labour, his patch had been created, and he sowed his first seeds. Paddy also explained how he felt that allotments would be too open, and also that their distance could also cause issues.
Paddy explained to me how his neighbours come to him to get some vegetables from him, and because of the volume of things he grows, it has become a sort of impromptu family business. His wife gets involved too, by cleaning and drying everything that is grown. However, she is in the process of having the house redone, and due to the new floors being put in, she has grown worried that the harvests will destroy her home, due to clay and soil and dripping water.
There are also other problems associated with this type of gardening, Paddy explained:
Pests are a menace, which include both insects and birds.
When he goes away on holidays, his garden requires a lot of attending to when he returns.
It can get very messy, which his wife has grown increasingly annoyed over.
James, Paddy’s grandson comes to the house to help out with the gardening, and he and Paddy also bond over their mutual interest in fishing. James mentioned to me how he is not allowed to dig up his own back garden to plant things, because his parents though that it would ruin its look. He became very interested when I explained to him what I was doing, and he suggested that I create something that he can use in his bedroom, to prove that he can grow things, so his parents might allow him to create a patch in his own house. James seemed to be very proud of his grandfather’s garden, as he played an important role in maintaining its upkeep.
James’ mother, who is working in New Ross, was able to organize a trip for me to see an experimental allotment being created in New Ross. This allotment would determine the benefits of using raised beds, when compared to the use of regular patches, as well as other things such as the level of accessibility given to those who have bad backs or require the use of a wheelchair. I will be visiting this allotment next Saturday at 3pm.
All in all, this was a very productive visit.